Sunday, January 6

Seed choices part one

After trawling the seed catalogues the first list of choices have more or less been fixed. I've chosen the flower seeds. The flower list is much shorter than that for vegetables although choosing isn't necessarily any easier.

This year I have decided that we won't be growing any half hardy summer annuals. There are two reasons for this decision. The first is that although we have a fairly large greenhouse in our garden we are often hard pushed to find space for all the seed trays and modules that we end up with. The vegetables tend to take priority and so often I end up planting out flower plants that are past their best. The second reason which really was the one that tipped the balance was that I was really pleased with the patch of hardy annuals that I sowed directly in the ground last year.
The seeds were just a hotchpotch of seeds from two packets of mixed seeds and some annuals seeds that we happened to have. Not only did the resulting flower patch look good but the bees and butterflies loved it. The flowers were always swarming with tipsy insects.

This year I've decided to create my own mix so have chosen: 
larkspur - Sublime Mixed
godetia - Dream
cornflower - Blue Diadem
California poppy - Monarch Mixed
calendula - officinalis
poppy - Angels Choir

I've also chosen cosmos - Sensation - which the catalogues class as a half hardy annual. Last year I had success directly sowing seeds, and also cosmos often appear on the plot as volunteer plants so I'm going to treat them as hardy.

I'll also steal some of the phacelia seeds that Martyn sows as green manure. This is one of the bees all time favourite flowers but we dig in that sown as green manure before it flowers.

I'm also guessing that I'll end up with plenty self sown nasturtiums and candytuft.

I've tried to choose varieties that are fairly tall growing as I want to mix up the seeds and I don't want any shorter plants to be swamped.
You may remember my disappointment over what should have been pompom dahlias. In the end, the disappointment turned into a happy event for the butterflies and bees, lack of pompoming meant they could access the pollen. They loved them. So this year I am going for single dahlias and have chosen Bishop's Children which have what is described as rich bronze foliage. They also are shown to have a good colour range so let's see whether these live up to expectation!

I have to have lots of sweet peas and they HAVE to be perfumed. Sweet peas with no perfume is like a rainbow with no colours or a peach with no taste!
I don't buy separate colours as I want lots and separate varieties work out to be expensive. So I'll grow my usual varieties, Thompson and Morgan Prize Strain, Kings Special Mix, Perfume Delight and Kings Spencer Mixed.

Then I have to have some sunflowers. Shouldn't it be easy to choose sunflower seeds. The problem is that being 5' 2" ish . I don't want plants that carry the flowers so high up that I can't enjoy watching the insects browsing. I don't want double flowers - the bees wouldn't thank me for growing them. Also there is a trend towards pollen free varieties, which is a bonus if you want to cut the flowers for house decoration, but again these aren't bee friendly. The only one I have found that fulfil my requirements is Little Dorrit. I always seem to fall back on this one!
No doubt I'll get some self sown sunflower seedlings but I may end up with none at all if I count on this happening.

My final set of seeds are the biennials. We usually grow sweet Williams to use as early cut flowers and so I've chosen the variety Prettiness which has lived up to its name in the past.

Last year I grew lots of winter pansies which looked great when first planted but just haven't stood up to the weather very well at all.
So this year I'm going to give violas a try. I've read, or heard, that they are more tolerant of poor conditions so we will see. I'm going to grow a variety called Symphonia.

Almost finally, rather than buying plants, I've decided to grow my own wallflowers this year and have chosen a variety with the imaginative name of Brilliant Bedder.

Last on the list is a choice really made for my sister. Since childhood she has hankered after a potted mimosa - the sort with leaves that fold up when touched. We were talking about this recently, and whilst browsing, I came across a couple of varieties. I've chosen a pink flowered variety called Pink Sparkles so let's hope I manage to grow at least one plant for her, (and maybe one for me too).


Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

19 comments:

  1. I never give flowers the same attention as vegetables when I'm growing from seed, so I'm going with the same idea as you and sowing most of them direct. I used to buy all my bedding in as plugs from Swillington, so I don't know where I'll get them from this year, not that I really need many. I was going to start my sweet peas off in autumn, less to do in spring, but after watching Monty Don's trials on Gardeners World, I decided to hold on.

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    1. We used to get our pansies and wallflowers from Swillington too. Do you know anything about a nursery in Great Preston - I saw an add for it in a freebie booklet that was posted through my sister's door?

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    2. If it's the one I'm thinking of, you carry on down the road that Swillington Nursery is on then turn right at the junction, it's on the left hand side. I called in when I was looking for brassica plug plants, but it didn't have any. In fact, it didn't have much, but that could be because it was at the end of the season. I think it's a great opportunity for them, now that Swillinton's closed down, to build up their stock and attract lots of new customers. I'm going to call in again at the start of the season and see if it's any better.

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    3. Let me know if it's any good. Jo

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  2. Especially love the Sweetpeas and Sunflowers. I grow heaps of sweetpea in the polytunnel and have cut flowers from April to November. I've never managed to get Sunflowers to do well here probably due to the wind so i think I may try the small sunflowers this year.
    Loving your plant choices for this year.
    Enjoy sowing!

    Linda
    http://thetenaciousgardener.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Hopefully I'll be able to share the actual flowers with you Linda. I bet that polytunnel smells wonderful

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  3. I love your sweet peas and pansies! They're absolutely stunnng! Best wishes :)

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    1. Thank you, Dewberry and thank you for popping along and leaving a commenty

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    2. Glad to see you have become a Follower too - thanks for that. I'll visit your blog too soon.

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  4. After seeing those beautiful sweet peas I just couldn't resist :)

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  5. Sweet Peas are so "old-fashioned" - in a nice way; very Retro! They remind me of an old Aunt who always grew them in her cottage garden, at a time when cottage gardens were genuine cottage gardens!

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    1. Strange - it seems to be one flower that has never gone out of fashion, Mark

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  6. Your flowers are lovely Sue. All of my flower beds at home are perennials. I do put a couple of annuals in some of my flower pots though.

    I really wish that I had more room at the plots for flowers. I'm going to sow some sunflowers there this year. I am trying to figure out where I can add some more flowers. Hopefully I come up with something!

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    1. We are just about all perennials in the garden too Robin

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  7. Sounds like a really good mix Sue. "Bishop's Children" are a delight, I will certainly grow them again this year, along with cosmos sensation which produce wonderfully productive sturdy plants which should cope with the wind here. You've also reminded me that I must grow phaecelia again, and sunflowers. I am a big fan of violas instead of pansies, they seem to withstand the weather much better and flower prolifically, if rather daintily. Good luck with all your seed sowing, look forward to seeing what edibles you choose this year.

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    1. The pansies I sowed last year and very soggy and tatty now so hopefully the violas will fare better, Janet

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  8. Hi Sue. I totally agree with you that Sweet Pea must be perfumed. I love the photo of the sunflowers. Growing flowers on my plot is every bit as important to me as growing fruit and veg.

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    1. Hello Charlotte - good to 'meet' you. I feel the same about roses - they are meant to be sniffed.

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